LDS Women and Post Secondary Education

Should LDS women be encouraged to seek a post secondary education if they’ve expressed an interest in having a large observant family?

Let us assume that a large family could be classified as a family with five or more kids. These children, if all births are not multiples, can be born in a period not less than five 40 week intervals plus four 4 week periods to become impregnated again. This works out to 216 weeks or 4 years, 2 months. That’s a pretty tight schedule to keep, but possible I guess if one were motivated enough. The time from the birth of the first child until the exit from the home of the last child would be a period not less than approximately 22 and one half years (assuming a good synchronization with a school schedule or a home schooled family).

The world we live in now changes at an ever-increasing rate. There is evidence of exponential rates of change in industries and technologies used by employees and researchers the world over. The education you receive today may, depending on the field of study, not be useful or meaningful in 5 years time. Especially if you plan to work in a technical industry or in a research position. How much out of touch would you be if you were to cease your studies for 5 years? 10 years? Just imagine how hard it would be to initiate a job search in your field after leaving it for more than 20 years.

The description of a women’s role in the ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ is that “women are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” while men “are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” This is familiar territory for many families with Dad being the breadwinner and Mom working in the home with the children. Most devout LDS women who work in the home go so far as to be available through the day for their children even when they are in secondary school or choose to home school their children themselves. Both of these behaviours offer little to no availability (or motivation) for additional work outside the home.

Given that raising a large family can span over two decades and that education now has an ever-decreasing shelf life, does it make sense for a young LDS women to attend a post secondary institution at all?

Let us, for a moment, consider other reasons one might wish one’s LDS daughters to attend a college, trade school or university if their education is not of a primary concern.

One argument is that being out on one’s own is a character building experience. True enough but one does not necessarily need to pay tuition to live outside one’s parent’s home.

Perhaps the argument is that all their friends are going off to school and they don’t want to be left behind or miss out on the shared experiences of their peers. Arguments that ‘everyone else is doing’ lead invariably in my mind to an exercise in bridge-jumping and at their core hold very little weight in regard to the best activities for youth in life experience and development of coping skills. In fact, leaving the pack can often be the child’s first experience of making their own decisions and developing coping strategies of their own.

Another argument is that attendance at one of the private LDS post secondary institutions is the best way for a young LDS lady to meet and be courted by a returned missionary and in time evaluate to what extent he takes his career studies seriously; not to mention the safety of being surrounded by members of one’s own faith during that courtship. This does have some sense to it, but the question remains; would it not be more cost efficient and time saving for the young lady to simply live in Provo or Rexburg until they’ve met the man they feel is ‘the one’? Many a parent may want to keep their daughters busy while they are in search of a life partner and simply enroll them so they have something to do during the search. But is this really an efficient and effective way of facilitating such a search? And what happens when she is wed and wishes to immediately start a family? Does the education she’s started simply be thrown away? Would this not lead to issues with her self esteem and self worth?

Would it not be more fair and effective if LDS parents were to instruct their daughters who have expressed interest in leading life as an observant LDS Mother of a large family, to not bother with post secondary education altogether?

Public Education and Socialization

The most comment/question we get from people who find out we homeschool revolves around socialization.

I’ve discussed previously the issue of socialization and homeschooling, so I am not going to discuss it here. What I would like to discuss, however, is the idea (or, at least, the implication) that public schooling is the source of societal socialization.

I attended 7 schools. The schools were spread over two provinces. That’s a pretty small sample size for sure, but think it does point out at least some consistency in education among some public schools.

In those 7 schools, I was taught various topics: social studies, history, math, physics, French, English, computer science, biology, chemistry, general sciences, health, woodworking, cooking, sewing, typewriting, and so on. I even had physical education classes.

What I didn’t have, however, were etiquette classes. I received absolutely no formal training on protocol for interacting with peers and superiors.

Sure, I had group work and interacted with teachers. Those experiences taught me how to work in groups and how to interact with those in authoritative positions. That being said, they weren’t the only source of my lessons in those areas.

I learnt social skills at church, in Scouts, on my soccer team, buying chocolate bars and Fresca at the corner store, in my friends’ backyards, talking to the police after pranking 911, ordering food at a restaurant, attending family reunions, growing up in a family of seven, getting into fights, working at McDonald’s, getting my driver’s licence, applying for my SIN, bartering on the price of my friend’s 100 comics, and so on.

My own experience teaches me that I learnt social skills throughout my life and because of numerous, varied situations. Going to public school does not seem to have been the basis for my current social skills.

As a result, I wonder not only if this makes the question “what about socialization” moot, but if the purpose of public school is even the point of public education.

Should the point of public schooling be to provide social experiences, which it does to a very limited degree? Should the point of public schooling be to provide instruction and knowledge?

Why I Hate Homeschooling

Sure, it’s got its positives and negatives. But, this just about wraps it up for me:

Check out the Jan 27, 2008 response to see what I’m talkin about. No kidding, when I read that, I stopped laughing and got a little choked up. I wish I could invite Jessica over to our house so she could play guitar hero with my daughters.

Suffer the little children…

Homeschooling Choice

I was getting a ride home from a meeting once with someone from church. Somehow the conversation turned to us homeschooling our children. After some questions regarding how we were going to manage teaching our children everything they need to know, he said to me, “I hope you give them the choice to attend public high school or not.”

While I did not think of it at the time, I did think this was an odd statement to make. After all, I am doubtful he would be offering the same choice for his public-schooled children.